Some good things from the current US situation.

A friend posted about how the current President gets so upset about what he thinks of as “fake” news.”  I think it is important to state that I didn’t vote for him or Clinton – I voted a different party. That is the change we really need – to get past this divisive mentality embodied in the two-party system.  It sets up a no-win situation, where there is always a “loser”.  But I’m starting to see some good out of what has happened because people are starting to wake up and realize that the government cannot take care of them.  People are taking matters into their own hands in a healthy and healing way.

Here was my response to him –

“It all seems fake to him because he’s being fed lies by his cronies.   There is evidence that he not only does not, but cannot read.  This means he is incapable of getting first-hand information.  It is all pre-digested for him.   I no longer think of him as evil.  Just very sad and mislead.   Pray for him.”

One of his friends (unknown to me) was freaked out that I suggested we pray for him, saying that we all needed to be prayed for instead.  I replied that Jesus tells us to pray for our enemies.

While meditating on this, I read the Catholic readings for the day, and all three that were for the afternoon spoke to this.

Leviticus 19:17-18

17 “You must not harbor hatred against your brother. Rebuke your neighbor directly, and you will not incur guilt because of him. 18 Do not take revenge or bear a grudge against members of your community, but love your neighbor as yourself; I am Yahweh.

1 Corinthians 3:16-17

16 Don’t you yourselves know that you are God’s sanctuary and that the Spirit of God lives in you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s sanctuary, God will destroy him; for God’s sanctuary is holy, and that is what you are.

Matthew 5:38-48

38 “You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. 39 But I tell you, don’t resist an evildoer. On the contrary, if anyone slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40 As for the one who wants to sue you and take away your shirt, let him have your coat as well. 41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and don’t turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. 43 “You have heard that it was said, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. For He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward will you have? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing out of the ordinary? Don’t even the Gentiles do the same? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

 

Another friend shared this, and there is a lot of truth to it. This is copied from a writer named Susan Keller. I have edited out the snarky bits.  What is left shows how much people are waking up.

“I can’t believe I’m saying this, but it looks like Trump is actually making America great again. Just look at the progress made since the election:

– Unprecedented levels of ongoing civic engagement.
– Millions of Americans now know who their state and federal representatives are without having to Google.
– Millions of Americans are exercising more. They’re holding signs and marching every week.
– The Postal Service is enjoying the influx cash due to stamps purchased by millions of people for letter and postcard campaigns.
– Millions of Americans now know how to call their elected officials and know exactly what to say to be effective.
– Everyone knows more about the rise of Hitler than they did last year.
– Everyone knows more about legislation, branches of power and how checks and balances work.                                                                                                                                                                     – Marginalized groups are experiencing a surge in white allies.

– White people in record numbers have just learned that racism is not dead.
– “Mike Pence” has donated millions of dollars to Planned Parenthood since Nov. 9th.
– Travel ban protesters put $24 million into ACLU coffers in just 48 hours, enabling them to hire 200 more attorneys. Lawyers are now heroes.
– As people seek veracity in their news sources, respected news outlets are happily reporting a substantial increase in subscriptions, a boon to a struggling industry vital to our democracy.

– Live streaming court cases and congressional sessions are now popular.

– Massive cleanup of Facebook friend lists.

– People are reading classic literature again. Sales of George Orwell’s “1984” increased by 10,000% after the inauguration.

– More than ever before, Americans are aware that education is important.”

 

My take is that the best thing we can do is to pay attention to what is going on and be active. Not reactive – because to react is to let “them” set the pace.  Don’t let them rule the dance.  Look for what is broken, who is hurting.  Go help them.  We’ve long said that the government is too involved in our lives.  This is a great opportunity to take control back.  Instead of the government taking care of the sick, elderly, poor, homeless – we need to do this, through churches and other civic organizations.  Don’t worry about government funding for Planned Parenthood – make it private.  Then there will no longer be a debate from some that their money is going to something they don’t agree with. We need to decentralize everything.

Perhaps the nomination to be the Secretary of Education of a person who has nothing to do with public education is a good thing.  We have a broken system, with children who are not able to get a job or even think on their own.  Currently, children learn to read well enough to memorize test answers.  This leaves them unprepared for adult life. Parents who can afford to send their children to private schools because they are seen as better.  So why not take the template of the private schools and put it on the public one?  Now – and this is critical – it must not be religious-based (unless it covers all faiths).

Better than that – let’s start reading again.  I don’t mean current fiction.  I mean non-fiction, things that make us think.  We’ve spent too long escaping life and not facing it.  We’ve spent too long asleep.  Go to your local library and support it.  Get together with people and discuss what you are learning.

Worried about your health-care?  Go for a walk or to the gym.  Eat the healthiest food you can.  Learn to cook.

This entire debacle has caused us to stop thinking of the government as our savior.  This is a good thing.

——————–

 

(All Bible verses are HCSB)

Advertisements

The broken down car.

We have gotten to a point with Christianity that we are sitting in a broken down car.

The car used to go. It used to get us where we needed to go. It used to work really well. But that was many years ago. Sometimes it works really well, but more often than not, it fails and sputters.

Something has happened to this car, and it wasn’t done to us. We haven’t maintained it. Nobody is to blame but us. Nobody stole the tires. We let them rot.

The steering wheel doesn’t work anymore. The car no longer goes where we intend for it to go. Instead of driving us to the people that need help, we take care of our own people in church. Instead of showing compassion to everyone, we are taught to feel sorry for people who aren’t Christian. We are taught to “love the sinner but hate the sin” – while forgetting that Jesus never said anything like that. We are taught that homosexuality is a sin, while forgetting that Jesus taught us to love everybody, and that judging others is a sin.

We were never taught how to get the oil changed, so the vitality of the car isn’t there anymore. We no longer are taught how to heal in the name of Jesus. We are no longer taught how to welcome the Holy Spirit. All the gifts that were given to the Disciples on Pentecost are lost to the majority of us.

We have the owner’s manual, but we don’t take it seriously. We have the Bible, but we don’t actually make them applicable to our life today. We pick and choose the parts of the Bible we want to follow, rather than paying attention to Gospel, which for Christians is the new, updated portion of the manual, to make it supercharged. Or we let someone else do the interpreting for us, and we don’t study the Word for ourselves.

When our mechanic tells us to fix the car, we don’t listen. We aren’t taught how to hear from God. And in some churches, the minister will discourage this behavior.

We’ve decorated the car up with all the geegaws we can, rather than on what is important. We’ve spent money on the windows and the seats and the paint job – but still we aren’t getting to where we need to go. Why are we spending money on the car, rather than on the poor and the homeless and the hungry and people in prison, you know, like Jesus told us to do?

So now we sit in this car. We sit in it every Sunday. It sure is pretty. But it doesn’t go anywhere. We content ourselves that sitting in it is what it is all about. At least we are there, rather than sleeping in. We feel so good about ourselves for going.

Every now and then the car goes. Sometimes we are able to fire it up and make it do what it is supposed to do. But it isn’t for very long. Then soon enough we are back to having book club meetings that cover books that aren’t about our faith, or having covered dish suppers where we feed ourselves rather than the hungry people in our neighborhood.

And be sure not to tell those people who have sat in the car the longest that the car doesn’t go. People don’t like having their possessions taken away from them. They don’t like being told that it is broken. They will hold on to it for their very lives. I think this is normal human behavior, but it is not what our goal is.

We’d be better off selling the car for scrap metal and giving away the money to help people in need than what we are doing now.

I was like those people who sat in the car. I looked at my friends who had left church with some small version of compassion. I thought that they just didn’t get it. Perhaps they were in the wrong denomination, or in the wrong parish. Perhaps they could see how things weren’t as they thought they were if I just kept on trying. So I did. And then I started to see the cracks too. And I couldn’t look away any more.

I wanted to help people. I asked three years ago, how do I learn how best to help? My motives were questioned. I had to submit a spiritual history on myself. I had to submit a photo, and a financial disclosure. I had to prove when and where and by whom I was baptized and confirmed in the Episcopal Church. I had to wait two years before all that began – and it still didn’t get me any closer to being able to help people. This is like the church telling me that I needed to build a car first.

I’ve walked away. I’ve not walked away from God or Jesus, just the church as it is. There is some thought that I should stay, to help repair the car. But I’ve been told not to talk about how broken the car is, because it hurts people’s feelings. How can I wake people up when I’ve been told to be quiet? Perhaps there is some concern that I won’t do it in the right way. Perhaps I don’t take everybody’s feelings into consideration. But there is a lot to be said against being too cautious and too careful. If you wait to make everybody happy, nothing is going to happen.

This is not a social club, and it isn’t a personality contest. It is hard work. This isn’t about feelings. This isn’t about egos.

I’m sorry that people’s feelings were hurt, but not for the reason they think. I’m sorry that they have invested so much of themselves into something that no longer works.

Don’t be a zombie.

Who are you?

Now, who are you really?

What have you always wanted to do? What is your dream vocation?
Are you doing it? Why not?

I want to encourage you to dream big. I want to encourage you to be the person you were made to be. I want you to wake up and see that life is indeed what you make of it.

My father wanted to be a conductor. Not of trains, although there was one summer he got to operate the trolley at the Chattanooga Choo Choo. What he really wanted to do was conduct an orchestra. His first and truest love was classical music. I remember him telling me a story that when he was young he used to listen to his classical records in the closet.

He was listening to classical music. In the closet. He was hiding as if he was doing something wrong.

He never lived out that dream. Perhaps there was shame that was put on him by his parents. I can imagine them telling him that conducting an orchestra isn’t a practical job. It won’t feed a family. Perhaps they convinced him that he wouldn’t be good enough at it to make it. There aren’t that many openings to be conductors. Why try at all if you can’t be the best?

When parents or coworkers or friends or church members or strangers tell you that you can’t do something, they are really pushing their own insecurities on you. They don’t think they can do it. They mean well, usually. They think they are saving you from the pain of failure. But really, they are killing you.

Not being who you were created to be is the worst kind of death. It is a death within life. Depression comes from being suppressed. It comes from your true nature being denied.

This doesn’t mean that you have to quit your job and move to Tibet. This doesn’t mean you need to find a job at a non-profit. This doesn’t mean that you have to stop reading fluffy romance books.

Or maybe it does.

This means that it is a good idea to realize that life is short and it is time to really think about what you are doing and where you are going. This means that it is time to give your dreams a try. This means that now is a good time to be yourself, really you, and not what everybody else thinks you should be.

Sometimes what we do to fill our time is just a distraction. We think we need to read the latest bestseller, watch the latest TV series, or buy that new dress that the movie star was wearing.

When we do this, we are being zombies. In a very amusing podcast called Paradosis by Father John Hainsworth, an Orthodox priest, he talks about what it is to be human by using zombies as an example of what it means to NOT be human.

He tells us that zombies look human, but they aren’t. What separates zombies from humans is their appetite. They are mindless in their need to consume. They will do anything to fill their appetite.

How are we different from zombies when we are mindless consumers, having to buy into the latest trend? How are we different from zombies when we sleepwalk through our lives, just going through our routines? How are we different from zombies when we aren’t truly alive to who we were made to be?

It is hard to wake up. It is hard to know what we want, and who we are, really. It is so easy to just go with the herd and be part of the mooing masses. But who wants to be a cow, led to the slaughter?